The History of Clothes Pegs

History of clothes pegs for washing lines through the years.

The humble clothes peg is a simple design, but without it, you would not be able to hang your wet clothes out on the washing line to dry. Typically, modern-day clothes pegs are now made from wood, plastic or soft plastic in combination with a metal spring, but it has not always been this way. In this complete guide to the history of clothes pegs, we talk you through the different clothes peg designs that have existed and how we ended up with the clothes pegs available today.

Original Pegs Design

You may have seen the original design of clothes pegs, called the dolly peg, in films, museums or history books. Now vintage collectables, or used as niche decorations in vintage-themed restaurants, the traditional wooden pegs that we all love and know are simple in their design. Essentially just a stick with a slit at the end which can be pushed over the washing to attach it on the line, they functioned in a similar way to their modern alternatives.

Wooden Pegs with Springs

Surprisingly, the spring-loaded wooden peg that followed the slitted wood design (after its invention was patented back in 1853) has changed very little in comparison to what’s on offer in today’s market. Traced back to the serial inventor David M. Smith, who lived in Vermont, USA, it is one of the few inventions that has had stood the test of time. Constructed from two pieces of wood with a metal spring in between, they are opened by squeezing the top, placed over the clothes and washing line and then released to securely fix the laundry in place.

Plastic Clothes Pegs

As previously mentioned, the design of the modern-day clothes peg is very similar to the design from over 150 years ago. The one thing that has changed, is the material used to manufacture clothes pegs. The introduction of using plastic to manufacture pegs lead to a huge range of brightly coloured plastic pegs available in a range of styles. The benefit of plastic pegs is simple because they tend not to discolour when wet, unlike wooden pegs. However, the drawback of plastic clothes pegs is that they break easily when left out in the sun due to the UV light damaging the plastic.

Soft Plastic Clothes Pegs

The final evolution of clothes pegs has come in the shape of soft grip washing line pegs. Still using the same conceptual design in their function, the difference is that the soft grip technology doesn’t leave marks or imprints on washing. This is a minor flaw of traditional wooden or plastic pegs that soft grip clothes pegs have aimed to and has successfully solved.

How to Choose the Best Clothes Pegs?

There are benefits and drawbacks of choosing plastic or wooden pegs, and if you follow our advice on storing pegs inside, there is very little difference performance-wise. So at the end of the day, choosing the best clothes pegs for your washing line is ultimately dependent on your personalised taste. The main things to consider when buying clothes pegs is what type of style you want, what colour pegs you like and most importantly the price you are willing to pay.

At Washing Line, we wanted to help you out. So, if you are interested in our opinion, then check out our Best Clothes Pegs Review. In it, we look at all the top-selling clothes pegs available online and help you choose the perfect clothes pegs for you.

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